Depression is not a dark room with a light switched off

This morning I had a thought about depression that stuck with me.
Here it is in poem form.

Depression 

Depression is not a dark room with a light switched off,
It is not a tunnel with a light at the end,
Not a pitch black night with the dawn approaching.

Depression is a newly blind man,
Fumbling in a room he once loved.

There is no light because
There is no dark
There is nothing.

Even if he could find the light switch
To turn it on
It would make no difference.
There is no dark
There is no light
There is nothing.

How can he admire
The things he once loved
When he sees nothing?

What is there to do
But sit
And be consumed
By it.

Depression is not a dark room with a light switched off,
It is not a tunnel with a light at the end,
Not a pitch black night with the dawn approaching.

Depression is a newly blind man,
Fumbling in a room he once loved.

© MyfriendEDD 2015

Endings and Beginnings

Yesterday I finished my last ever university exam.

I have never been so relieved for something to end.

For many people university is the best time of their lives, a chance to create a new identity, become more confident, make new friends. My experience was different. University exacerbated my mental health problems and I feel like I am leaving this place half the woman I was before I arrived.

Obviously there have been some good points to it all, I achieved some independence, made some good friends, lived in my own house, but I can’t ever begin to say that these positives outweigh the negatives. How many times have I sat in this bed and cried myself to sleep, begging for this to all be over.

I’m not, of course, saying that university is like this for everyone with depression. I’m sure it’s the exact opposite for many people. Personally, I have never experience anything so difficult in my entire life. I have felt so isolated, worthless, not good enough, I have dreaded going to seminars, dreaded waking up in the morning, dreaded pasting that smile on my face before I open my bedroom door. It’s been hard being so far away from my family who are so incredibly supportive and understanding of my problems and whilst they are only ever a phone call away, they feel further than that when I can’t hug them.

If I could do it all again, I’m sure I wouldn’t. I know that’s not what you’re supposed to say, you’re supposed to reflect on hard experiences and look at how they made you stronger, made you who you are and whilst that is true to some extent, I would never repeat this experience, the pain I have felt in just existing over these past three years has been torturous.

So now, what next? I have no idea. For someone who feels like life is pointless, nothing feels more pointless than when you have finished all your exams and you have no responsibilities- ironically, all I have been craving for the past couple of months. I don’t have a job or a plan lined up. I am hopeful but not unrealistically hopeful that the future will be brighter. I am, however, under no illusions that leaving university will cure any of my conditions, but for the first time in a very long time I at least have hope and that’s enough for now.

Is it fine to just be fine?

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here.

I never know whether it actually does me any good to dwell on my thoughts but sometimes I just get the urge to write it down.

This past week I’ve been quite ill with a cold, cough and conjunctivitis. I’ve felt physically and mentally drained. The cough has been effecting my sleep which doesn’t help with my overall mood and I just get the feeling I’m annoying my housemates.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about happiness. Happiness is something I think about quite a lot. I think it’s one of those things where if you don’t have something you dream about it all the time and what it would be like to have it. Some people dream of their lives with a new car or a new pair of shoes or whatever but I dream what life would be like if I were happy.

I was happy once, a long time ago now, I’ve been depressed for about 3 years but when I think about it the signs were there long before that so it’s hard to remember a time when I was happy and even harder to imagine what a happy me would be like now.

I tend to fluctuate between being sad and being fine. It doesn’t seem to get better than fine. Is it ever going to get better than fine? Or is that as high as it goes? I had an expectation that once I got my medication for depression sorted I’d suddenly be happy but I’m not. I don’t know when this will magically happen. Maybe after I’ve left university…but I’m not so sure.

Until it does happen, I’ve just got to drift along in this blur of negative emotions and hope for change…

…But I’m growing impatient.

“Oh I just feel really diabetes today”

Recently I had to forgo an important part of my degree because of my epilepsy and depression. I was given medical concession.

This got me thinking about, something which isn’t anything new to the mental health community, about the stigmatisation of mental illnesses. Something which is new to me, however, is how I stigmatise, my own mental illness, something I’d never really thought about until this happened.

Skipping this part of my course is unusual and as such I get questioned almost everyday on why I’m not doing it. My response is always the same: because of my epilepsy.

It’s seems strange to me that I’m completely ready to divulge this information to absolute strangers and yet I never add “and I have depression.” Why is that?! I can convince myself that depression is more personal and yet, is it? Depression and epilepsy stem from the same thing- something is wrong with my brain. It’s not personal to have a chemical in balance which causes my depression, just like it’s not personal that my brain is wired differently that means I randomly have seizures. So why do I view them differently?

After I have a seizure I don’t blame myself, I don’t not ask for people’s help, I don’t apologise to those around me- it’s out of my hands. Yet when I’m having a very bad day in my depression I blame myself, I try not to ask for help so as not to burden people and those I do ask I apologise profusely to.

Why do I stigmatise myself?

Something else I noticed today was someone said “We wouldn’t want that because then we’d all wind up depressed.” It kind of suddenly struck me as odd. Why do we use ‘depression’ to cover all manner of upsets or inconveniences. Why don’t we do the same with bodily illnesses? “Oh I just feel really diabetes today”. Call me over-sensitive but I find it kind of offensive to relate having to do 2 hours in a row of lectures to having a life long battle with a debilitating illness.

So I guess I stigmatise myself because mental illnesses are still not taken seriously and when they are taken seriously, they’re taken too seriously to the extent that people will judge you for something you cannot control. I don’t know if any of that makes sense. I guess nothing about any of this makes sense.

Staying Afloat

I accidentally stumbled on my blog again after trying to type in wordreference and ending up on wordpress. I had been avoiding writing on here, it sometimes feels shameful if you don’t have anything positive to report and you just feel like your whining to a crowd of people who don’t care.

I’m back at university this week. University drains the life out of me. Although I like certain things about it, the daily struggle of smiling at people, pretending I’m fine, going to seminars, talking to people is so incredibly draining.

I once read that depression is like drowning but you see everyone else around you swimming and staying afloat. This is never more true for me than when I’m at uni. Day after day I see confident happy people. Tall, skinny girls with perfect skin and posh voices.

To say I’ve worked my whole life to get here, I’ve never felt more like a failure. I feel inadequate in every single aspect of my university life. I feel like a failure for finding it so hard when everyone else seems to thrive here. I’m dreading my first seminar tomorrow, dreading seeing everyone, dreading getting my first thing wrong, dreading feeling like an idiot.

My skin picking has got terrible since I arrived last week, every night has been spent in front of the mirror with my forehead covered in blood. It seems so embarrassing and awful to me that this has become normal. I want to stop. But I can’t. I would love to be normal.

To deserve or not to deserve, that is the question…

This time of night is normally my weakest point. Not only does it make me overthink and analyse the ‘point’ of my day and how ‘good’ I was, it’s also the time where I take off my makeup and have to come face to face with myself in the mirror- this usually never ends well.

Tonight is no exception. I entered the bathroom half an hour ago to brush my teeth, I’ve just returned with a face sore from relentless picking. It’s frustrating because I felt like today was more positive and yet I fell at the final hurdle.

Today I had a bit of a realisation about my negativity. I realised that although I don’t choose depression, I could ease the darkness by turning towards the light. I noticed that I’m very quick to forget the positives and cling on the negatives like a comfort blanket. I feel like I’m so used to being down that it’s almost become safe and it’s scary to allow myself to be happy for too long. Truthfully though, which I never admit to myself, I deserve to be happy. But even writing that down feels obnoxious which is ridiculous, why do I not deserve it?!

So today I tried to cling on to the positives from my Spanish class as the teacher was so positive about my progress. I also allowed myself to start thinking positively about the future, about after graduation and maybe getting a job and my own flat. 

I think the negativity started again around tea time. I had too much to eat and ate the wrong kinds of things. I felt frustrated and disgusting next to my incredibly beautiful and skinny sister-in-law. Once again I’m back to criticising myself. Maybe that’s why I picked my skin again tonight. I’ve never really thought about my negative feelings being a trigger for my skin picking but I guess it makes a lot of sense for that to be true. I suppose if I feel terrible about myself anyway, I don’t feel like I deserve to treat myself right. 

So I still have a long way to go but at the moment I’m at least beginning to unravel the mysteries of depression a little more. 

Riding the wave

Today I felt like I was walking around with a weight on my shoulders. Time dragged. I felt stupid in my studies. My steps felt like I was wading through mud.

I went shopping in the hope I could finally find something that didn’t make me feel fat. I eventually bought some new trousers but the trying on process felt extremely draining; having to stare back at myself over and over again.

The lighting in shops is also never very forgiving and always gives rise to feelings of wanting to pick my skin. Thankfully today I managed to stop myself though I stared for a good while.

Decided to relax this evening. The idea of time alone seemed blissful whilst I was walking around the bustling city in the sweltering heat. Now that I’m alone I feel slightly useless. Decided to watch TV, ended up watching Marley and Me and having to switch over because I found the ending (which I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen it!) too depressing.

I’m a very odd mixture. I crave time alone, time to relax, time away from people and yet I think I actually collapse a bit without structure. I hate structure but without it I fall into a feeling of despair which is why I’m now writing this in the hope it’ll make me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile even though I realise it’s not really about anything.

One of the most frustrating things about depression is that often there is no reason behind your sadness or your struggle, it just is. In a world where everything has to have a reason and proof, it’s very hard to accept that there is no real reason behind such a overbearing feeling. It just is the way it is. You have to ride the wave and hope that the sea will soon calm and once again you will be fine again, for no reason.